Each year in December Musashi Ichinomiya Hikawa Shrine, in Omiya Park, has a Daitosai Festival with a Tokamachi (Tokaichi¹) Market on one day. The Tokamachi is like a Tori no Ichi, both are markets held before the new year for good luck and prosperity in business in the New Year. You can buy the colorful ‘kumade’, or lucky rakes, as in the featured photo, at these markets. You don’t have to buy anything though and there is no entrance fee, you can just go along to enjoy the atmosphere. Be warned: it gets very busy and is crowded from morning to night!
¹Because the Japanese 十日市 can be read “Tokaichi”, a lot of people call it that, but as you will see on the official site and the Saitama City tourism website, it is actually pronounced Tokamachi.
Tokamachi market Musashi Ichinomiya Hikawa Shrine
The Tokamachi is held on December 10th annually, regardless of what day of the week it is. However, it is just one part of the larger Daitosai, a 300 year old festival which is on for twelve days, from November 30th to December 11th. From November 30th to December 9th, there are bonfires lit every night at 8 pm on the grounds of the shrine. They are purifying fires, believed to offer protection from the deities if you expose yourself to the smoke. Supposedly, this ritual is what remains of a fire festival that was held at the shrine in the past. The purifying fires are the precursor to the main ceremony on the 10th;
The Tokamachi starts from the wee hours of the morning on the 10th and runs until late at night. However, the stalls are actually there from around 3 pm on the 9th. In addition, there are also stalls in Omiya Park on the 9th until 9 pm. There is usually between 250 and 300 stalls at the market. The shrine has confirmed that there will about 250 stalls this year (2023), not 2000 as some websites are reporting. Apart from the lucky rakes, you can also buy other lucky charms. In addition, some of the stalls sell street food.
Event: Tokamachi as part of the Daitosai 十日市・大湯祭
Date: from November 30th to December 11th, but the main date is December 10th. There are also stalls on December 9th. Between November 30th and December 9th there is a religious bonfire nightly at 8 pm.
Time: from 3 pm to 10 pm on the 9th, from midnight to 1 am and again from 7.30 am to 10 pm on the Sunday.
Cost: there is no admission fee
Venue: Musashi Ichinomiya Hikawa Shrine 武蔵一宮氷川神社, 〒330-0803 Saitama, Omiya Ward, Takahanacho, １−407. View on Google Maps.
Please note there will be traffic restrictions from the afternoon of the 9th until the early hours of the 11th. Also, some of the parking lots are used for the market, so they advise you to come by public transport. Kitaomiya station is the closest to the shrine. Its about seven minutes on foot. However, the stalls are at various locations, such as along the ‘Hikawa Sando’, so any of the three stations that service the park are within walking distance. It takes about ten minutes on foot from Omiya station to the start of Hikawa Sando, which in itself is about two kilometers long! Meanwhile Omiyakoen station is closer to the stalls in Omiya park.